The story of the Nürnberg Christmas Market and the “Christkind”

It presumably originated from a trade fair in the late Middle Ages. The earliest record of this can be found on a small box (from 1628) where an inscription says that it was traded at a “Kindles-Marck”, a market in Nürnberg around Christmas time. This market became very quickly very popular, both with traders and citizens and it soon extended from 3 days to 3 weeks.

Who traded? Craftsmen like bakers of speciality cookies “Lebkuchen”, bookbinders, doll makers and wood carvers with beautifully made artefacts. Smiths created wings of brass to make a costume with wings for the “Christkindl”, an angle-like creation, it’s figure head.

In the 19. Century the market became known beyond the local regions and eventually turned into a tourist attraction. The toy industry began selling its products and it had to move to a bigger venue to where it is now, the large market place in front of the “Frauenkirche”.

It stopped for a few years during the 2. world war, but was re-opened in 1948 and it started to feature a life “Christkind”, which delivers a prologue at the opening ceremony and attends many social functions, like old peoples’ homes, charities, hospitals, interviews on TV, visits to other Christmas markets. It is a messenger from heaven, bringing comfort and presents to all people, especially children.   

For German speakers, here are the first few lines of its prologue, which is the same every year:

Ihr Herrn und Fraun, die ihr einst Kinder wart,
Ihr Kleinen, zu Beginn der Lebensfahrt,
Ein jeder, der sich heute freut und morgen wieder plagt:
Hört alle zu, was euch das Christkind sagt!